Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    March 9, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PST

12:00 am
12:01 am
i am the general manager of the san francisco public utilities commission and i am pleased to welcome you it our summit on climate change. as you know, throughout the country there is a number of meetings, discussions, probably even other summits on climate
12:02 am
change. and you are probably wondering how this one is different, how this one might be more important or is important. and the reason it is different and it is essential because what we have gathered here today are the decision-makers for one of our most precious resources: water. represented here today are the heads of the largest water utilities in the united states. as decision-makers, we are responsible for providing water to tens of millions of americans. we are also pleased to bring together other government leaders and scientists that are experts on the environment, water and climate change. this gathering is also note worthy, in my perspective, in
12:03 am
that we not only will exchange ideas, debate issues around water and waste water, but we are charged, we are charged, with coming up with action plans, action plans that will allow us to continue to provide drinking water for millions of americans for generations to come. so i thank you all for being part of this effort. to kick off our program today i would like to bring up a member of my commission, president of our commission, and that is ryan brooks. mr. brooks, commissioner brooks, or president brooks, as he is now known, is the western region vice president of government affairs for cbs outdoor, a leading global media company and is responsible for
12:04 am
government and public affairs from california to texas for that company. he is also a member of the california international relations foundation. he provides assistance to the california state senate in furthering economic, environment, educational and cultural exchanges with foreign governments and citizens. president brooks also served as director of administrative services for the city of san francisco where he was responsible for policy and planning for 14 city departments, managing over 300 employees, and a budget of $100 million. please join me in welcoming president brooks.
12:05 am
. >> thank you, susan leyall, and good morning, welcome here. before i start i want to thank our general manager leyall who has done an extraordinary job here at the san francisco puc and also i want to recognize two people that just walked in, our vice president commissioner ann (inaudible) and commissioner dennis nolan that just arrived. thank you very much. i want to echo what miss leyall said, welcome everyone to this historic summit here in san francisco. the next couple days we're going to tackle very tough issues, the issues of global warming, issues of waste water, hydropower, the electric power in the city and i'm very proud that california is leading the nation in those efforts. we're leading the nation with our u.s. senator barbara boxer, who chairs the most powerful
12:06 am
committee of the environment and public works; our governor, arnold schwarzenegger, who is a leader in reducing green house emissions, and our legislator don perada and gerald huffman who you will hear from later on in the program, and of course our mayor, gavin newsom. gavin newsom has been a leader of the environment before it was the sexy thing to do. he has been responsible for putting solar power at moscone center; responsible for putting power at san francisco international airport; responsible for putting solar power at the waste water facility in the bayview hunter's point. he will be responsible for putting power on our libraries, on our schools, and everywhere possible in the city and county of san francisco. we're very fortunate that this
12:07 am
mayor has been the first mayor to create a climate action plan that will reduce the green house emissions by 20 percent by the year 2012. this mayor has also been a leader and innovation and we're looking at creating -- in harnessing paddle power below the golden gate bridge and that will be done under gavin newsom's leadership. so please put your hands together and give a warm san francisco welcome to our mayor, my mayor, gavin newsom. >> thank you. newly elected so i've got to now call him mr. president. thank you, president brooks. i want to thank the commissioners for being here and of course our director, susan leyall, recognize her extraordinary leadership in
12:08 am
putting this to the. as they say, god's delays are not god's denials. we should have been here a decade ago. i had the great privilege of just getting back a couple days ago from the world's economic forum in suite err land. it was an extraordinary experience for the first time in the 3 or 4 years that i've been here, there was no snow up in the alps. it was completely green as if we were there in the summertime and what a back drop for a discussion about global climate change. in stark contrast to just a couple years ago when there were just a few panels like this on the topic. now, overwhelmingly, the consensus is we have got a crisis of extraordinary proportions and we need leadership not just to identify the obvious, but to act locally. indeed, that's the spirit of this conference. it's one thing to talk about ideals; it's another to manifest them.
12:09 am
we have got to provide each other best practices. we gotta provide each other specific examples to aggressively address the reality of global warming. now, that reality is such that we are so focused on talking about what could happen if we continue to do what we've done, we are not talking enough about what we've already done that is happening that there's nothing we can do to stop. and i think that is the next narrative in this discussion, is the damage we have done in the last half century is such that this conference, regardless of whether or not we take bold leadership in the next months and years ahead, the reality is we are going to be burdened with the mistakes of the past and we better get serious to begin to address them. so i want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to come here from seattle, los angeles, new york, all across the country, interestingly those coastal cities, appropriately those coastal cities that are taking the time to be here, and begin
12:10 am
the process not only of identifying the problem today and working through the consensus again, sort of sharing the same set of facts which continues to dominate the dialogue, but then begin the process of resolving what we do about this reality tomorrow. that being said, in san francisco i'm very proud to be a resident of a city, fifth generation city, of a city that has always been a city of dreamers and doers, a city of entrepreneurs, a city that doesn't just identify these larger global problems but begins to address strategies to solve them. indeed, san francisco is very proud of its leadership to begin the process of mitigation so that we don't have it adopt and as some have said suffer the consequences of global climate change. more mitigation, less adaption, less suffering. this city decided a number of years ago after the united states did the obvious and that was decided not to participate
12:11 am
in the kyoto accords to go further, as ryan was just mentioning, as kyoto would have required the united states. we want to roll back our co2 emissions 20 percent from 1990 standards. the challenge is how do you do it. we have mayors saying, well, we've done it. what's the methodology where you determine where you were and now where you are and i realize we're not that sophisticated in terms of really aggregating that information, registering that information and really, indeed, knowing how much we have accomplished. we are anecdotally but we recognize even in san francisco that we were having a difficult time determining how far along we were on this path. that's why we have become the first city in the state and we're very proud of the leadership now in the state and i say leadership now in the state, not leadership 5 years ago, but now in the state on these issues, by becoming the
12:12 am
first city to register where we are in terms of our emissions and having more objective minds determine exactly where we are so it's not just a politician coming up and saying we've rolled it up 30 percent below 1990 and everyone applauds but the reality is that's not necessarily the case. so we have a plan of action. we have a coordinator whose purpose in life is to advance these efforts, and within that plan we've got actionable items, some of which are as interesting or at least elevating in terms of the quality of imagination, tidal wave energy or wave energy which to me is just low-hanging fruit. the idea that mother nature has given us all the tools to solve this riddle and we're not taking advantage of those tools by focusing appropriately, but almost exclusively on solar and wind and other efforts and not
12:13 am
taking advantage of harnessing the extraordinary power of the energy that could be created because of our tidal flows and the enormous energy that could be generated because of waves. that's why this city is poised to become the first city in north american history with a demonstration project, a commercial project, to place, in essence, a large green power plant underneath the mouth of our golden gate bridge or the mouth of the bay below the golden gate bridge that could conceivably provide enough power for 12 1/2 percent of all the households in san francisco. 100 percent green, 100 percent renewable. they are doing smaller projects around the world from israel, just over in england, we've seen these demonstration projects. we've now got to make them more commercially viable and san francisco wants to take the lead. my great hope and expectation as a californian is to see
12:14 am
those gas oil rigs off the coast of california completely replaced with wave energy systems which again exist around the world but aren't being taken advantage of here in the state of california as they could or should be. we have done a lot on solar. in fact, we're very proud to have taken the leadership on our solar initiative a number of years ago the public passed a $100 solar bond in san francisco. this is years and years ago, which became the impetus for the million solar roof initiative that governor schwarzenegger, to his credit, advanced a number of years ago and succeeded with a year or so ago. we have the largest municipally owned solar project in the united states of america just right here over at our moscone facility. we have 450 projects throughout san francisco. we have incentivized wisely over the counter permits so people can navigate the
12:15 am
bureaucracy, a $98 fee, flat fee. we are developing projects in this city with minimum requirements for lead building standards. in fact we have a proposal that i will be presenting in front of our san francisco board of supervisors that says you want to build a commercial structure in excess of 50,000 square feet, you've got to provide minimum lead standards of construction. the reason we are doing that is we create an incentive a year ago to do that and everybody in order to get ahead of the queue in terms of the planning process is jumping in saying that's a no brainer of us because time matters more than anything else. so we are going to require it as a base line for doing business in the city and county of san francisco. that follows what we had already done and that is say we're going to spend the taxpayers money, we have got to provide those lead standards in terms of our libraries, reconstructing our recreation centers, doing it for our institutions, our cultural
12:16 am
institutions. for example, the extraordinary job that is currently being done and hopefully this time next year will be complete at our academy of sciences, lorenzo piano, great architect with one of the most sustainable green developments, in fact the most of any in this nation, $180 million development at that academy of sciences. we are redeveloping old brown fields in san francisco, replacing old power plants. we had one of the most polluting plants in the state of california, just shut it down, old pg&e. we are focusing on replacing blue collar jobs with green power jobs to communities that disproportionately have been hurt by our neglect and i
12:17 am
believe the next narrative in this discussion and i think it's critical that it not just be next, it needs to be intertwined and how do we reconcile this with the old strategies of electricity and fossil fuel production and begin to address the issues of poverty instead. i think that is striking in san francisco when the vast majority of our pollutants and waste, waste water system, et cetera, are disproportionately in areas where people have the highest unemployment rate and the lack of resources to truly make their lives as successful and prosperous as we all are trying to achieve. we're a city that has the highest recycling rates. at a time when people said you couldn't have 50 percent recycling, san francisco is poised to be at 70 percent in a year or so. we want to get to 0 percent by 2020. they said that's impossible.
12:18 am
they said you couldn't require, for example, the development on treasure island. right there you will see an island -- many of you know the region very intimately -- we are redeveloping treasure island, 6,000 housing units. it will be the most sustainable units in the city. you want to do business, here are the rules that regulate that entry. we have happy to have an agreement with a developer. that comes from utilization of photovoltaics and wind and other mechanisms to substantially advance our environmental goals. i can go on and on and truly, i could go on and on about some of the work we're doing on energy efficiency again back to low-hanging fruit, we're not talking enough about energy efficiency in our power savers programs, our partnerships with the business community, our desire to get rid of incandescent lights exclusively in the city, i know there's a state initiative to do that and
12:19 am
we're going to be advancing it much sooner. we can do so much more. it's a long-winded way of saying there's no excuse. you guys are doing it in your respective cities, we're doing it partially in this city. there's no reason we can't lead by example and i say lead, i don't mean again lead, i mean leed. we have the obligation. you have the capacity. do not look back in peril of being judged not to have acted on this seminal issue that unites the planet. i think, and i'll close with this, that al gore summed it up best. rare is it in human history that we all connect on a purpose greater than our own. this is a remarkable opportunity not just a crisis, an extraordinary opportunity and i think we should look at it accordingly. i am optimistic. i am absolutely proud of the
12:20 am
progress that our department of environment, susan -- miss new puc have accomplished and i'm wildly enthusiastic about the ideas that will be generated by this two day conference. our goal is to manifest your ideas and make them real. in closing, i'll say one final thing. the politics of this is remarkable. i don't think any of us could imagine 3 years ago we'd be where we are today. there are few people save a few folks on these right wing talk shows that still are just saying it's all about volcanos or something and global warming is not happening. i mean, it's humiliating on behalf of their families i am embarrassed. that being said, the consensus on this is extraordinary. so we have this unique and spirited opportunity and i'm here to take your ideas and i
12:21 am
think in politics, we're nothing more than conduits and my job is to take your ideas and to attempt to try new things. but in turn, and this is my final point, we're willing to take great risks in san francisco. because i'm convinced the greatest risk is not acting. and we're here to learn from our mistakes. and mistakes will be made and we're committed to making more of them in order to push the bar further. and i encourage you, be it from la or new york or wherever you are, to demand from your executive and legislative branches, the same attitude. there's a reason the silicon valley area and the san francisco bay area have thrived and prospered. it is that quality of innovation that at its core is a willingness to try, learn from mistakes and move forward. branching and pruning. you miss 100 percent of the
12:22 am
shots you don't take. such are the attitudes of the private sector. now, as it relates to this crisis, we have to take that same ingenuity in the public realm and that means we need your advice and counsel and we need to act and we need to conclude whether or not we are succeeding and immediately address whether or not that has had an impact that can be shared beyond the 47 square miles that make up our city or the cities where you may reside. thank you all very, very much for being out here. i hope you have a very successful conference. thank you. . >> thank you. thank you so much, mr. mayor for taking the time out of your very busy day and welcoming
12:23 am
everyone here. i'd like to get to work here and the first thing i'd like to do is call up our first panel and introduce our moderator. and our moderator of our first panel, which is rising seas and coastal challenges, that moderator of our first panel is mary d. nichols. she is currently director of the ucla institute of the environment. she was appointed by mayor antonio villarugoso, commissioner of los angeles and serves as its president through september, 2006. we all know mary as a very capable secretary for california's resources -- california resources agency where she was the head of that agency from 1998 to 2003. those of us who remember back
12:24 am
far enough recall the days as a senior attorney for the environment now foundation. she was also co-founder of the first environmental justice working group in the state. we are very pleased here in san francisco and i believe all of you should be very pleased to have mary as the moderator of our first panel. mary, it's time for you to take it away. thank you. . >> thank you so much, susan, for that very generous introduction and also to the city and the public utilities commission for hosting this landmark event. it really is wonderful to see water utilities taking a leadership role in discussing this key issue and particularly to see the bredth of the program in terms of the way the issues are being addressed. i'm particularly pleased as an
12:25 am
urban person to see for once that we're talking about water from the coast up the watershed, rather than the other way around. starting out this morning's program dealing with some of the very tough issues that face urban areas as they look not only at water supply but at water treatment and the energy role that water plays for us as well, both bringing us power and cooling our coastal power plants. i bring you greetings, of course, from the city of los angeles and we are experiencing, as has the entire country, the warmest year recorded. last summer was the warmest summer since records were kept. i know you've all seen al gore's speech so i don't have to recapitulate all that, but i do think it's important to bring it back to the meaning for the city of los angeles and for other cities as well that when we record record high
12:26 am
temperature, we also record record high use of our power system, which means we also have record high numbers of outages and we have record high hours of overtime being worked by our employees and we have many other impacts that are felt greatly by the citizens and by the rate payers. our city also receives a very large quantity of water and certainly our best quality of water from pristine area in the eastern sierra known as the owens valley and that's what feeds our aqua duct. we have been seeing summer runoff over the last 70 years showing a decreasing trend during the peak flow months which means although there are ups and downs in terms of the water supply, that during the times of highest need, the water yield is at its lowest,
12:27 am
and going down. and this finding is consistent with what we've seen from the california department of water resources for the sacramento river and the san joaquin water heads as well. so we are certainly not alone in this regard. we are seeing of course the decline in the snow pack which others are going to talk about much more later today, but the suggestion that somehow the snow would be replaced by increasing water rainfall in southern areas has not yet emerged. and so picture really does not look great. we have our two largest and most important waste water treatment plants, the hipurian and (inaudible) they treat waste water and 11 other cities
12:28 am
and water using agent sis throughout the la area. those plants are located approximately 20 feet above mean sea level. the projections for sea level rise in the last itcc report ranged from about 9 to somewhere upward of 25. latest studies are indicating that the upper numbers are perhaps too conservative. so you can see the implications for the viability of those plants if we don't look at substantial modification. and again the science is increasingly telling us that when sea level rises, it doesn't just rise tiny little amounts year by year over a long period of time. it's very likely that it will be much more dramatic changes, as seen at the polar ice caps. we have a number of natural gas
12:29 am
burning stations also on the coast. these stations provide upwards of 40 percent of the total electricity supply of the city and they are also at about 20 feet above mean sea level. these power plants can be replaced in terms of the amount of energy that they generate, but they are essential to the operation of the grid because of their location. they keep supplies flowing through the power lines in the city. so, again, reason why we are preparing now to deal with this effect. city of los angeles port is one of the busiest in the -- it is the busiest in the united states and with la long beach harbor one of the busiest in the world. the port is in the midst of a serious re-evaluation of its infrastructure needs based on the effects of global climate change which again we can anticipate and which are going to rir
left
right